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Shutterstock Portrait Studio: Stephanie Teng at CreativeMornings/HongKong

For the last three years with Shutterstock, we worked with photographers to capture the spirit of CreativeMornings’ attendees in chapters around the world. Together, we’ve collected over 2,000 portraits.

A good portrait tells the truth about a person in that moment in time—not the whole truth, but close to it. It’s an intimate dynamic that requires connection, patience, and acuity of the subject’s spirit.

We interviewed each talented photographer to learn to see what they see when they raise the camera.

Meet Stephanie Teng, photographer and artist.


What is it about portraiture that inspires you?

I’ve always been drawn to people or environments that inspire a shift of awareness in me. Whether it be environments that make me question my place in the world or people who make me ask questions about the world. Photographing people is all about connecting with strangers on a very basic human level. It’s about noticing the moments in between and capturing those fleeting emergences of the subconscious.


Portraiture is a personal exchange—how do you get your subjects to open up? What do you say or do?

Since being inspired by a song, I’ve adopted this phrase as one of my mantras: “Go out there and radiate your essence”. Every time I step into a shoot, I make sure that I’m mindful of my mood and energy because I believe that my subjects will feel it and mirror it. At the end of the day, portraiture is about human connection - the less walls you have up, the more your subjects will feel at ease with their true selves too.

At what moment do you know you successfully captured someone’s spirit or personality? How do you know?

When I have a shared understanding and connection with my subject, that’s when I know I can stop shooting. Having said that, I think I can only know for certain when I’ve created a good image - but there are no four corners that can really frame something as complex as the human spirit. As with other art forms, we can only attempt at capturing fragments of life as we understand and interpret it.


What advice would you give to people just picking up a camera, ready to explore the wonderful art of photography?

Shoot from the heart, don’t be too concerned with what gear other people are using or what other people are creating, nourish your own creativity and never stop learning to reinvent yourself.

See more of the CreativeMornings/HongKong portraits.

Discover more of Stephanie’s work on her website and Instagram.

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